Can It Be Too Late to Heal From Narcissistic Abuse?
Narcissistic abuse can cause serious damage to someone's mind and to their life. It is like being at war, it's like being under attack all the time. It's dealing with someone who has no true regard for - or even real consciousness of - anyone but themselves. This often makes the people who are exposed to this abuse anxious, hyper-vigilant, irritable, fearful, extremely reactive and angry. People who experience narcissistic abuse in childhood have problems with trust, self-worth, self-esteem, with asserting their own needs, with their identities, with boundaries, with their emotions, some have issues with denial, with projection, with codependency, and sadly, some of them become narcissists in their own right. Narcissism is the gift that keeps on giving.
The road out of narcissistic abuse can be very long. Some people, such as those who become pathologically narcissistic, never make it. One of the reasons the road is so long is because many people spend years not realizing that what is going on is abuse. Others do realize it but can't understand why it's happening, and they become stuck trying to figure it out. Still others believe they can manage the situation and try to control the behavior of the narcissist through their own behavior or by arguing, explaining, or negotiating.
The simple truth is that abusers abuse for their own reasons. There is nothing anyone can do about that except get away from these kinds of people. You cannot love someone enough to make them stop abusing you. If they understood love and how to recognize it, they would probably not be behaving that way in the first place. In the case of a pathologically narcissistic person, this is someone with extremely serious emotional difficulties - at the very least. They are in enormous denial and may even be delusional. Even without the other things that so often occur in tandem with pathological narcissism such as addiction, problems with obsessive-compulsion, anxiety disorders and depression, most people are simply not equipped to deal with this type of situation. Even those who are supposed to be equipped to deal with this type of person professionally - such as psychiatrists and therapists - often flat out refuse to treat them because it is so difficult and so much of the time, it is pointless.
It's easy to fall into blame over this, especially because the narcissist is so willing to blame other people. But no one could be expected to deal with the abuse and the upheaval and the chaos that this kind of person brings with them. You're not running a psychiatric facility. You don't have a team of staff that can tend to this person's never-ending needs and feelings and outbursts and tantrums and pain 24 hours a day. You're just one person trying to live a regular life. Don't be too hard on yourself. And work on accepting the reality of the situation: this person needs more than what you can provide for them.
This is where the true road to recovery and healing begins: with acceptance. Understanding is necessary. Crucial, really, because people can't resolve things in their mind unless they understand them. Within understanding lies acceptance, so keep working through the understanding because as you do that, you are working toward acceptance. It may not seem like it's clicking but it is. It just takes time and there are a lot of layers it has to penetrate. You have a lot of habits and reactions that you are trying to change as well. But it all starts with acceptance.
So it is ever too late to heal from narcissistic abuse? Nope. It's never too late. The day you make the realization that you deserve better is the day it begins and whether you are 17 or 70, it's never too late. Everyone is different, and for some people, their life experience may lead them to their realization much earlier. Others might require more time. Maybe if you'd learned this information sooner, you would not have believed it. Maybe you couldn't have seen it or understood until now, until after you went through what you've gone through. In The Wizard of Oz, The Good Witch tells Dorothy that she doesn't need any help because she has always had the power to change the situation herself. The Scarecrow asks why The Witch didn't tell Dorothy this before and The Witch says, "She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself." As Dorothy is trying to explain what she's learned - which is essentially that she already has everything she needs to be happy - The Scarecrow and The Tin Man say they should have figured it out for her because it's so simple and The Witch tells them again that Dorothy had to learn it for herself.
It is the same with everything. It's all about when you are able to understand and able make the changes. This isn't the same experience for everybody. We are all on our own journey. Don't spend time dwelling on what you didn't know and how much you wish you could have known it sooner. What matters is, you know it now. You see it now. You can change it now.